Friday 19 January 2018

Strong figures are good news – but dark clouds loom

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

THERE was an air of deja vu at the Irish Exporters' Association (IEA) yesterday as the group's chief executive John Whelan once again presented strong exports during 2012 and forecast more growth this year.

Few people could quibble with 5pc growth, bringing the value of goods and services exports to €183.4bn. Next year the IEA is projecting exports to grow by another 5pc to €192bn.

Of course there are dark clouds on the horizon, few lobby groups are ever going to say everything is rosy.

Mr Whelan repeated his call for the Government to bring in some form of export credit insurance and for the State to do more to open up emerging markets.

He has a point. There are 12 Irish embassies in Africa, but only the one in South Africa has a trade attache.

"The likes of IDA and Enterprise Ireland are being asked to cut back but it's not the solution to working your way out of a recession," he claimed. There was more good news for exporters yesterday after the IEA confirmed shipping lines were unlikely to impose a massive hike for businesses using refrigerated containers for deep sea shipping.

Before Christmas, Mr Whelan warned that the likes of Maersk were looking to increase the cost of such a container by €1,500. That could have had a huge effect on food exports beyond the EU. Yesterday, however, he said that would more likely be about €750 for smaller players, and about €350 for long-term contracts.

Irish Independent

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